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The hard truth of the matter is that pretty much anything and everything we do to our hair—color it, brush it, style it—takes a toll on our tresses. And of all the many factors that contribute to hair damage, heat styling just may be one of the worst. The good news? It’s also super easy to prevent this type of damage. No, you don’t need to give up your beloved hair dryer or curling iron. All you have to do is make sure you prep your strands with a good heat protectant. Think of these as sunscreen for your hair—an essential protective step to ensure your hair stays soft, strong, and healthy.
Now that we’ve convinced you of their importance, check out the best heat protectants below.
We love the heat protection this lightweight spritz delivers, but we also love its versatility. It can go on wet or dry hair (the perfect option when you want to use your straightener for a quick touch-up on second-day hair)—plus, it even works as a UV protectant, too. Also nice: It delivers mirror-like shine, no matter which way you use it.
Maybe you use hot tools daily and go through protective products like water, or maybe you just don’t like to spend big bucks on your haircare routine. Either way, this drugstore staple is choice. Mist it all over pre-styling and let the protective polymers in the formula do their thing, protecting hair from temps up to 450 degrees.
You can tell this is going to be a good pick for dehydrated tresses just by the very name of it. Indeed, the creamy spray is oil-based to impart plenty of moisture and condition hair, but it also acts as a great detangler, and, of course, a heat protectant. FYI, it does have a strong scent, which can be a turnoff for some.
As the name suggests, this product is packed with rich oils (coconut, argan, and macadamia, to name a few) to hydrate and soften even super thick or coarse hair. It also works well to tamp down frizzies and guards against both heat and UV damage, all without leaving behind any kind of unwanted residue.
Despite the fact that rich argan oil is the key ingredient here, this aerosol spray is surprisingly dry and weightless, which makes it a great pick for relaxed hair. It contains conditioning panthenol, too, and boasts an addicting signature scent that’s so good it'll make you reach for the product daily.
No matter whether you’re blow-drying and straightening your naturally curly texture or are using an iron to add definition to your spirals, heat protectants are especially important for those with curly hair. Enter this pick, which relies on a combo of organic oils to shield strands from heat, add shine, and smooth out frizz.
Water is hair color’s worst enemy, but heat is a close second. (Not to mention that the more heat-damaged your hair is, the less it'll be able to absorb color evenly.) This spritz packs a whopping 21 benefits, including, of course, color preservation and heat protection, and works great for all hair types and textures.
While this is a good pick for all hair types, it’s an especially great option for those constantly combatting flyaways. Rosehip oil in the formula balances moisture levels (the secret to warding off frizz), while argan and coconut oils further hydrate and smooth. Plus, the cream consistency is a nice change for those with thicker strands who may find sprays to be too light. Just use one or two quarter-size dollops, based on the length and texture of your hair.
Heat protectants are a must for preventing future tress stress, but if the damage has already been done and your hair is in need of some extra TLC, reach for this reparative and heat protecting oil. Like all of the Olaplex products (which Byrdie editors rave about, BTW), it works by targeting and repairing the broken protein bonds in the hair. In short, strands are left smoother, softer, shinier, stronger, and with more vibrant color.
Yes, another option from Living Proof made it on this list—the brand is just that good at creating protective products. This one is choice for those who like to score multiple benefits from one product; it acts as a strengthening leave-in conditioner, smoothing detangler, and heat protectant, all in one. Unlike its aforementioned counterpart, it’s a spray, not an aerosol, which is ideal for those who may be avoiding aerosols for environmental reasons.
For those who reach for their blow dryer daily, this is an absolute must. Not only does it offer the requisite heat protection (for up to 450 degrees), it even works to reduce blow-dry time. You get out the door faster and your hair is subjected to heat for a shorter amount of time—that’s what we call a win-win. Plus, it works as a great styler, too, imparting plenty of smoothness and shine to your blowout.
Meanwhile, if it’s a flat iron that you reach for every morning, this is the product for you. It too safeguards strands from temperatures up to 450 degrees and has the added benefit of keeping your newly straightened style smooth and sleek for up to 48 hours. Simply mist it evenly onto dry hair before you hit it with the iron.